Is all of technology the equivalent of an evolving seventh kingdom of life?

David E. Nye in American Scientist:

ScreenHunter_01 Feb. 22 10.26 Whether it’s intended to be so or not, the title of Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants is a provocation to most historians of technology, who would reply almost unanimously that technology has no wants or desires. Each tool or machine has latent uses, but each is only an inert object until human beings decide whether and how to use it. In contrast, Kelly talks about technology as a composite whole that emerged before human beings existed and that facilitated their rapid domination of the planet. For him, technology has intentions, and it is radically accelerating evolution.

Kelly has been thinking about technology for most of his life, first as a backpacker wandering the Third World, later as one of the pioneers of what became the Internet, and finally as one of the founders and editors of Wired magazine. He overcame his early suspicion of Western technology largely as a result of his encounter with interactive computer technologies. He was one of several in the counterculture to move from working on the Whole Earth Catalog to celebrating the Internet as a new online facilitator of grassroots movements.

Kelly argues that all technologies, from the stone ax to the computer chip, should be seen as a collectivity—the technium, which is “the greater, global, massively interconnected system of technology vibrating around us” and includes “culture, art, social institutions, and intellectual creations of all types.” He coins the term because he wishes to emphasize the idea of technology as an overarching entity that constitutes the equivalent of an evolving “seventh kingdom of life,” one that “predated our humanness.”

More here.